23 June 2018

Dutch Civilian Load a Canadian Truck with Food

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Date: Thursday, 3 May 1945
Place: Wageningen, Netherlands
Photographer: Alex Stirton

Along the Rhenen-Wageningen road, Netherlands: Dutch civilians unloading food from a Canadian truck to the town dump, following agreement amongst Germans, Dutch and Canadians about the ground distribution of food to the Dutch population. 3 May 1945. Air drops of food by the British and United States had started on April 29th and lasted till May 8th. At the meeting in Achterveld on April 30 both sides decided that the transport by air alone would not suffice. A second operation, codenamed Faust, would also be launched. Two hundred allied trucks from the 21st Army Group would bring food to Rhenen, starting May 2nd.  Rhenen was at that moment a city on the German side of the frontline. In Rhenen the trucks would go over in the hands of Dutch truck drivers, who would take the food further into occupied Holland. According to the plan, 1000 tons of food would be transported daily by the Wageningen - Rhenen road. This photograph was taken by Alex Stirton.

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16 June 2018

Food Negotiations Between German and the Canadians

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Date: Monday, 30 April 1945
Place: Achterveld, Netherlands
Photographer: Ernest DeGuire

Food negotiations begin. German and Canadian negotiators arrive at a schoolhouse, where they secretly discuss supplying food to the starving Dutch people still in German-held areas. While 2nd Corps of the 1st Canadian Army was crossing the Rhine River in late March 1945, 1st Corps was on a massive redeployment from the Italian front — through the Mediterranean and up through the south of France — to join the 1st Canadian Army advance into Germany and The Netherlands. Moving into northern Netherlands the Canadians effectively cut off the 117,000 German troops in western Holland, leaving them with no means of escape. The Germans were defeated and the exhausted Canadian soldiers could see the end. Nobody wanted to be the last man killed in this war in the cold bleak months of early 1945. But the occupying Germans were still fighting, and the occupied Dutch were still suffering serious privation under them. The oppressors had flooded the farmlands of western Netherlands and blockaded food and supplies to civilians. The abject neglect of the Dutch by the occupying Germans caused the death of at least 18,000 civilians in the terrible famine known as the Hunger Winter. The picture was taken by Ernest DeGuire on 30 April 1945 at Achterveld, Netherlands.

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15 June 2018

American, Soviet and British Soldiers at Elbe

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Date: Wednesday, 25 April 1945
Place: Torgau an der Elbe, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

An American, a Soviet and a British soldier share Camel Cigarettes, at Torgau an der Elbe, April, 25th 1945. On that day American and Soviet - even some British troops - decided to meet each other at the Elbe River near Torgau, Germany. It took some work, translators, and lots of discussion through the translators and officers on the radio but, the now famous meeting was put together. Soviet, British, and American forces embraced each other, some even kissed one another, out of joy that Germany had been split in two and the war was finally coming to a close. However, the war was not yet won and many would still be killed. Some were not even killed in combat but by drunks, accidents, etc. The Meeting at the Elbe became a popular example of peace once had and chances of peace during the Cold War. Several songs were written about it and its date, April 25th, was even considered being made a “World Peace Day” but unfortunately it was rejected by the UN. However, those who were there never forgot it and for many it touched them deeply. The picture was colorised by Paul Kerestes from Romania.

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03 June 2018

Canadian Soldiers with Their Dutch Girlfriends

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Date: Friday, 16 November 1945
Place: Amersfoort, Netherlands
Photographer: Ken Bell

16 November 1945: Though the victory against the German in Europe came in May 1945, some of the young Canadian soldiers would live in The Netherlands well in to 1946 before becoming eligible to come home to Canada. Here, personnel of 4th Canadian Armoured Division and their Dutch fiancées.Left to right: Grenadier W.G. Dobbin with Wilhelmina De Groot, Grenadier R.A. Jennings with Rita Nies, Corporal E.P. Weiss with Nancy Raven, and Private N. Landry with Aaltaga Berends. It is estimated that approximately 43,500 war brides went to Canada following the demobilization of Canadian troops. Accompanying them were some 21,000 children born to European mothers and Canadian military fathers. The picture was taken by photographer Ken Bell at Amersfoort, Netherlands. Now becoming the collection of Library and Archives Canada No. a140422.

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09 April 2018

British Soldiers Going to the Front

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Date: Friday, 29 September 1939
Place: Somewhere in England
Photographer: Unknown

Pictured above are British soldiers from the BEF (British Expeditionary Forces) preparing to ship out to France for the newly begun Second World War, September 29th, 1939. From September 1939 to April 1940 there was a period of time known as the "Phoney War." After the outbreak of war in September 1939, France and Britain had declared war on Germany but made no real action except sending French troops to the border and British Expeditionary Forces to the Belgian, Luxembourg, German, and Italian borders. The French and British adopted a mainly defensive strategy and relied pretty much on the Maginot Line and BEF forces on the Belgian border. During this period of time the British and French began air raid drills and conscription into their armies. Britian, expecting that it's cities would be devastated by bomb attacks, began a massive evacuation of children from areas considered to be at high risk of being bombed (i.e. major cities.) Hospitals were emptied to free beds for bombing casualties. Entertainment venues were closed. The snakes in the London Zoo are even killed for fear that a bomb might free them to roam the devastated capital! When bombing failed to materialize, life went back to a relatively normal way but the Allied citizens were still weary and reluctant about a new world war as a vast majority had seen or heard of the carnage during World War I. Civilians were issued gas masks, ration cards, and other essentials in the event of a bombing or even invasion. The French sent probes over the border but this was the most aggressive action they took on the Western Front, and this would be one of their gravest mistakes. In May 1940 the Germans invaded the Low Countries and then in June they overran France.

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08 April 2018

Italian Refugees with New Zealand Soldier

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Date: Saturday, 3 June 1944
Place: Sora, Lazio, Frosinone, Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

Italian refugees are brought to the town of Sora, Italy, from heavily shelled areas in an ambulance jeep driven by C.P. Kerrisk of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 3 June 1944. On this day, the 2nd New Zealand Division (led bc charismatic Bernard Freyberg) captured the town of Sora after the advance from Monte Cassino up into the upper Liri Valley. The advance was hampered by lack of communication between the infantry and the supporting tanks of B Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, which were to work up the road from Sora. A Company claimed that it reached the road west of Campoli, but did not make contact with the tanks, which in turn reported that they could find no sign of the infantry. D Company also reported that it gained the road (on the right of A Company), and in doing so had taken 10 prisoners from 134 Regiment. A possible explanation of the inability of the infantry and tanks to join up may be that the tanks, proceeding in a compact bunch, had passed before the infantry reached the road. The picture was taken by George Frederick Kaye.

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07 April 2018

2 NZ Personnel Division Sorting Out Maps

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Date: Thursday, 8 June 1944
Place: Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

Personnel sorting out maps during 2nd New Zealand Division's rapid advance in Italy, 8 June 1944. The Italian campaign was New Zealand’s primary combat contribution to the war following the hard-won victory over Axis forces in North Africa. Almost all the New Zealanders who served in Italy did so as members of the 2nd New Zealand Division – a highly competent fighting force affectionately known as the 'Div'. The men of the Div endured harsh winters and 18 months of gruelling combat before ending the war in the city of Trieste in May 1945. The legacy of the campaign was profound and long-lasting: more than 2100 New Zealanders were killed and 6700 wounded during the liberation of Italy; placenames like Orsogna, Cassino and Faenza continue to evoke the memory of their contribution and sacrifices.

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06 April 2018

Award Ceremony of Romanian Medal for Carl Gustaf Mannerheim

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Date: Saturday, 20 December 1941
Place: Helsinki, Finland
Photographer: K. Sjöblom

Romanian Ambassador Constintinides (second from left) handed the commander-in-chief of Finland's defence forces, Carl Gustaf Emil Freiherr Mannerheim, the Ordinul Mihai Viteazul (Order of Michael the Brave), December 1941. It is is Romania's highest military decoration, instituted by King Ferdinand I during the early stages of the Romanian Campaign of the First World War, and was again awarded in the Second World War. The Order, which may be bestowed either on an individual or on a whole unit, was named in honor of Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), a late 16th-century Prince of Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia. The award for Mannerheim dated as 1 November 1941, and it contained three medals at once: Ordinul Mihai Viteazul Clasa 3, 2 and 1 (Royal Decree no. 3026). Mannerheim is also a Ritterkreuzträger (recipient of German Knight's Cross of the Iron Crosses), which he received on 18 August 1941, and Eichenlaubträger (recipient of German Knight's Cross of the Iron Crosses with Oak Leaves), which he received on 8 August 1944.

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New Zealand Tank Crew at Cassino

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Date: Thursday, 18 May 1944
Place: Cassino, Frosinone, Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

New Zealand tankmen, possibly 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade personnel, in Cassino, Italy, on the day it fell to the 8th Army, 18 May 1944. The Brigade arrived in Italy on 5 October 1943, over a month after the initial invasion, landing at Taranto and were involved in the first actions to break through the Bernhardt Line on the Sangro front. In 1944 they were transferred to U.S. Fifth Army on the Italian western coast. The New Zealand Division was joined by the 4th Indian Division and the British 78th Division, and together with units of the U.S. 1st Armored Division formed the New Zealand Corps and was tasked with the capture of the town of Cassino, its skyline dominated by a 13th Century Monastery. During this period the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade was tasked with supporting the infantry. Individual squadrons were employed in a fire support role, often being used as makeshift artillery. The 20th Armoured Regiment participated in a flanking attack, approaching the Monastery on a specially constructed road from behind. Surprise was achieved, but insufficient infantry reserves to press the initiative saw the German defenders regain the upper hand and the tanks fell back. In March tanks from the 19th Armoured Regiment entered the town proper to support members of the 28th Māori Battalion in the bitter house to house fighting, using their 75mm guns to dig the defenders out of strong points. The degree of rubble clogging the streets made progress slow and by the end of the month when relieved by the 20th Armoured Regiment the Shermans had reverted to the role of static fire support. This continued for the next two months, with the tanks able to provide little more than morale support to the infantry until the monastery finally fell to Polish forces on 19 May 1944.

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National Library of New Zealand Ref: DA-05712-F

05 April 2018

German Tank Crew Surrendered to New Zealand Troops

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Date: Wednesday, 3 December 1941
Place: Near Tobruk, Cyrenaica, Libya
Photographer: Unknown

A captured Matilda put into use by the German forces, is recaptured and its crew taken prisoner by New Zealand troops, 3 December 1941 during Operation Crusader. On 18 November 1941, Operation Crusader was launched to lift the Siege of Tobruk (the third such attack), under the command of General Alan Cunningham and the New Zealand 2nd Division (integrated into the British Eighth Army) took part in the offensive, crossing the Libyan frontier into Cyrenaica. Operation Crusader was an overall success for the British, although Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps inflicted heavy armour and infantry losses before its weakened and under supplied units retreated to El Agheila and halted the British advance. The New Zealand troops were the ones to relieve Tobruk after fighting around Sidi Rezegh, where Axis tanks had inflicted heavy casualties against the several New Zealand infantry battalions, protected by very little of their own armour. In February, 1942, With Crusader completed, the New Zealand government insisted that the Division be withdrawn to Syria to recover - 879 men were killed and 1700 wounded in Operation Crusader, the most costly battle the Division fought in the Second World War!

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04 April 2018

British Commonwealth Troops with Captured Nazi Flag at Monte Cassino

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Date: Thursday, 18 May 1944
Place: Monte Cassino, Latin Valley, Southeast of Rome, Italy
Photographer: Carl Mydans

British and South African soldiers show off a prize, a swastika Nazi flag, after finally conquering Monte Cassino, 18 May 1944. By May 1944 the historic Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino had been reduced to rubble. As part of Operation Diadem, the task of capturing it was given to Polish II Corps, but their attack on the night of May 11th/12th failed. The German positions in and around the ruins high on the mountain (atop which the soldiers above are standing on) were simply too strong. Further to the south, however, French troops managed to find a way through the Aurunci Mountains, which the German's believed are impassable, and could now overlook the Liri Valley, through which highway 6 ran to Rome. A second attack on Monte Cassini by the Poles, on May 17th, made some progress, but because of the French advance German troops were already withdrawing from the Gustav Line. The following morning the Polish flag was hoisted over the ruins of the abbey. The capture of Monte Cassino came at a high price. The Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign. German casualty figures are estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. Total Allied casualties, spanning the period of the four Cassino battles and the Anzio campaign with the subsequent capture of Rome on 5 June 1944, were over 105,000. This image is in beautiful and original Kodachrome, and was taken by Carl Mydans from LIFE magazine.

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03 April 2018

Captured German Kübelwagen in the Liberation of Paris

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Date: Saturday, 26 August 1944
Place: Paris, France
Photographer: Frank Scherschel

Paris, France, 26 August 1944: Car carrying journalists and photographers of YANK magazine give a ride to French partisan and unidentified woman during parade held the day after the liberation of Paris by Allied troops. They are using a captured VW Kübelwagen Typ 82, a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82. Kübelwagen is an abbreviation of Kübelsitzwagen, meaning "bucket-seat car" because all German light military vehicles that had no doors were fitted with bucket seats to prevent passengers from falling out. The first VW test vehicles had no doors and were therefore fitted with bucket seats, so acquiring the name VW Kübelsitzwagen that was later shortened to Kübelwagen. Mercedes, Opel and Tatra also built Kübel(sitz)wagens. The picture was taken by Frank Scherschel from LIFE magazine.

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Corporal Bull Allen Carrying Wounded Soldier at Mount Tambu

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Date: Friday, 30 July 1943
Place: Mount Tambu, Salamaua, New Guinea
Photographer: Gordon Short

The exploits of Corporal Leslie 'Bull' Allen, of the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion, produced one of the most remarkable photographs of the Wau-Salamaua campaign. On 30 July 1943, during an attack by American troops on Japanese positions up Mount Tambu, Allen carried to safety twelve wounded Americans. The man he was photographed carrying had been knocked unconscious by a mortar bomb. Like many men in the veteran 17th Australian Infantry Brigade, of which the 2/5th Battalion was part, 'Bull' had earlier served in the Middle East. He had come to notice there for determination and bravery as a stretcher-bearer, recovering wounded men during battles in Libya and Syria. Later, after being sent to New Guinea, during the defence of Wau in January 1943 he had rescued men under intense fire, and was awarded the Military Medal. Born at Ballarat, Victoria, in 1918, Les had a tough childhood – he and his sister were raised in an orphanage, and at about the age of 12 the boy had to start earning a living. By the outbreak of war in September 1939, he had been in the work force, mostly farm labouring, for almost a decade. Then in April 1940, aged 21, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He was reinforcement to the 2/5th Battalion, which was training in Palestine, and was made a stretcher-bearer in 'D' Company. Les acquired the nickname of 'Bull' in Palestine. A keen sportsman, with an imposing physical stature – 5 feet 11 inches (180cm) tall, solid and strong – he would charge down the opposition while playing Aussie Rules, hence 'Bull'. He also had a wicked sense of humour and a booming voice and laugh – one of his mates recalled, 'You could hear him a mile off!' 'Bull' was thus one of the battalion's most recognisable, and one of its most popular characters. 'Bull' was revered by the men he served alongside. He was said to be one of the very few who never showed fear. The citation for his Military Medal pointed to 'courage and untiring efforts'. Bill Carty, a cameraman who later witnessed 'Bull's rescue of the Americans recalled a 'gigantic man striding up Mount Tambu like he was on a Sunday jaunt', describing Allen as 'a huge man with obvious physical and emotional strength, perhaps borne of a difficult childhood'. But this was an incomplete picture of the man. While he did not display his fears, 'Bull' was inclined to bottle them up. Shortly after his first campaign, in Libya, in early 1941, 'Bull' had been admitted to hospital suffering from 'anxiety neurosis'. After treatment and rest, he returned to his battalion, and performed admirably in Syria and then at Wau, and throughout the Wau-Salamaua campaign that followed. Time and again, he gave his all to bring in wounded men. Mount Tambu was merely another episode. The strain began to show only when 'Bull' was out of the battle area. In late 1943, at the conclusion of the Wau-Salamaua campaign, the survivors of the 17th Infantry Brigade were withdrawn to Australia for recuperation, much needed leave, and the rebuilding of their units. Allen had always been in trouble in one way or another and he exhibited a certain disdain of authority. But now, while training in Queensland, his behaviour became erratic, and he ended up punching an officer. He was court martialled, and medically discharged in September 1944. So traumatised was this decorated veteran of three campaigns by the experience of war, he retreated to an uncle's farm, having lost his power of speech, and took many months to start returning to 'normal'. It was during this time that the Army posted Leslie 'Bull' Allen a second medal, the US Silver Star, awarded for his actions on that day up Mount Tambu.

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Australian Soldiers at the Battle of Mount Tambu

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Date: Friday, 23 July 1943
Place: Mount Tambu, Salamaua, New Guinea
Photographer: Gordon Short

Australian soldiers of "D" Company, 2/5th Battalion, lay down fire onto Japanese forces while using an abandoned Japanese weapons pit just 50 yards from the Japanese line, near Mount Tambu in the Salamaua area, New Guinea, 23 July 1943. New Guinea was crucial for the Australian war effort and had they not repelled the Japanese forces there Australia would have a very large and looming threat of invasion. The Japanese could of used the island as a launching point for invasions all along the coast. The Japanese were a very elite and well trained fighting drove during World War II. Had they had more supplies and better gear they could of held at least some parts of their vast territory from Allied attack. Supply shortages stork end the country though and starved their military. The Battle of Mount Tambu itself was a series of actions fought in the Salamaua area of the Territory of New Guinea between Allied and Japanese forces, which took place between 16 July and 18 August 1943. The battle formed part of the wider Salamaua–Lae campaign and was fought in the final stages of the campaign, which had seen a combined Australian and US force advance from Wau towards Salamaua following the repulse of the Japanese attack on Wau in late January and early February 1943. After several frontal assaults on the position by Australian and US infantrymen were rebuffed by determined Japanese defenders, an indirect approach was sought and flanking moves were undertaken to cut off the Japanese supply route along the Komiatum Track. This succeeded in eventually forcing the Japanese off the position as they withdrew to avoid encirclement.

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02 April 2018

Two US Ground Crew Paint Easter Message to the Bomb

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Date: Friday, 31 March 1944
Place: Somewhere in Southern Italy
Photographer: Arnoldo Mondadori

Two USSAF ground crewmen paint an "Easter Eggs", which are really AN-M65 1,000 Lb bombs with the message "Happy Easter to Adolph!" in Southern Italy, 31 March 1944. The ground crew were an essential yet forgotten component for the success of bombing campaigns during and throughout the war. They were a rough and tough bunch, usually from rural backgrounds. They liked to play their hamonicas, joke, and have a game of craps like most soldiers during the time. They saw the bomber's as their own and did everything to ensure it was safe and fully capable.

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29 March 2018

New Zealand Soldiers Drinks Tea in Cassino

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Date: Wednesday, 5 April 1944
Place: Cassino, Frosinone, Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

New Zealand soldiers belonging to the 22nd Battalion / 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force, take a break during a lull in the fighting and drink tea during the bloody battle for Cassino, Italy, 5 April 1944. In 1943 the Allies took Sicily and began to land into Italy. They met little and patchy opposition throughout most of their advance northward but small pockets of fierce German and Italian resisters still remained here and there. Just a few miles outside of Rome now, the Allies were preparing for the final push into the heart of Italy. In early 1944 they began to advance and then some hit shocking happen. The radios lit up with a chaotic rabble basically all about the same issue: We have hit heavy resistance and are taking heavy casualties. What the Allies had just hit in Italy was what would soon become deadliest sector on that front, the Gustav Line. The Gustav Line was a line of fortifications in the mountains that stretched from west to east Italy. It was the last large obstacle blocking Rome from the Allies and it had to be broken through. For months and months Allied soldiers fought through the mountains, taking thousands of casualties every week, and seemingly making no gains. As casualties mounted the Allies knew they had to try something new, land a small American force at Anzio as a distraction to the Germans. As soon as the Americans landed they would charge towards Rome since they landed in Anzio which is behind the Gustav Line and in theory this would distract the Germans. The American commander at Anzio instead landed and waited a full 9 days to prepare which was more than enough time for the Germans to regroup and hold off the Americans. Now you have the invasion forces bleeding out and not even crawling towards Rome, in other words; the situation was not looking good. Finally, after months of hard fighting, the Germans began to ran out of supplies and pulled back to the Italian Alps in the northern area of Italy. The Americans at Anzio broke through the German defenses and pushed on, and the Allies at Cassino finally, after months of ferocious fighting, advanced towards Rome.

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Courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

27 March 2018

Eichenlaub Award Ceremony for Panzer Ace Otto Carius

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Date: Tuesday, 2 January 1945
Place: Outskirts of Salzburg, Austria
Photographer: SS-Kriegsberichter Ege

Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (Oberbefehlshaber Heeresgruppe Oberrhein) awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub #535 to Oberleutnant der Reserve Otto Carius from schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502. The picture was taken by SS-Kriegsberichter Ege on 2 January 1945 at the outskirts of Salzburg (Austria). The ceremony was quite extraordinary because Carius had already received the announcement of his award from 27 July 1944, but the ceremony was postponed until five months later! This is because the panzer ace was seriously injured by a multiple shot in the seven parts of his body (including the neck!) only a few days before he suppsosedly received the Eichenlaub, so he had to be taken to the intensive care for months at Feldlazarett (Field Hospital). Carius received the news of his award through newspapers when lying weak on the bed, and was only able to walk with his feet in September 1944. When this photograph was taken, he was no longer in charge of schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502 but had already been transferred to Panzer-Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Abteilung 500. Another interesting fact is that the handed-over ceremony was performed by Himmler, whereas the Eichenlaub-grade medal ceremony and above was usually attended by Hitler directly. This is because from the end of 1944 the Führer began to restrict his public activities - along with the deterioration of the war situation - so that such activities were then represented to his closest confidants such as Himmler and Göring. Carius dedicated a chapter about this moment in his book 'Tigers in the Mud': "My first impressions of this man, whom his opponents called a 'bloodhound', had really pleasantly surprised me. I wasn't apprehensive about the upcoming 'cozy' conversation anymore. I described my visit with Heinrich Himmler in such detail, because he really surprised me. After the conversation in his staff headquarters , I gathered some hope for a successful conclusion to the war. That was after I had already considered a defeat almost certain."

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25 March 2018

Japanese Troops Passing The Chinese City of Peiping

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Date: Friday, 13 August 1937
Place: Peiping, China
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Associated Press

First pictures of the Japanese occupation of Peiping (Beijing) in China, on August 13, 1937. Under the banner of the rising sun, Japanese troops are shown passing from the Chinese City of Peiping into the Tartar City through Chen-men, the main gate leading onward to the palaces in the Forbidden City. Just a stone's throw away is the American Embassy, where American residents of Peiping flocked when Sino-Japanese hostilities were at their worst. It was yet another sign that the confrontation between China and Japan, which had started three weeks earlier at Marco Polo Bridge near the city, had reached a new, dangerous stage. For the past decade, after the city of Nanjing further south had been made the capital of China, Beijing had no longer been the nation’s political center. But it remained a powerful symbol of past Chinese might, having been the seat of the emperors since the 13th century. It was no longer possible to argue that the Japanese empire was nibbling away at the fringes of China. This was Chinese heartland, and had been so for centuries. The actual combat taking place in Beijing proper in the last days of July 1937 was relatively limited, but a much larger and bloodier battle erupted a few miles south of the city, as described in this extract from the book "Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze": Once the Japanese reinforcements were in place at the end of July, an imperial order was issued instructing the local commanders to “chastise the Chinese Army in the Beijing-Tianjin area.” The well-equipped Japanese units unleashed a series of coordinated attacks, with extraordinary bloody results in some places. Chinese soldiers manning a barracks south of Beijing were nearly wiped out, and when a thin column of survivors tried to flee north through the fields towards the city, they were chopped to pieces by Japanese heavy machine guns places in advance along the escape route.  The injured soldiers were left to die slow agonizing deaths under the scorching sun, as unfeeling peasants collected bayonets and other equipment useful for their work. Also on July 29, Chinese auxiliary police ostensibly working for the Japanese rebelled in Tongzhou, a town east of Beijing that was home to 385 Japanese and Koreans at the time. Of these, 223 were murdered, many of them women and children. When the Japanese retook the city, they exacted terrifying retribution, as described in Shanghai 1937: Japanese soldiers bent on revenge beheaded all the men they managed to capture, whether rebels or not, and raped the women. When they were done with Tongzhou, they swept the surrounding countryside searching for anyone who looked like a fleeing police officer, hard to determine at a distance, a gunned them down too. Finally they set the town on fire. It created a dense column of black smoke that could be seen by the horrified residents of Beijing in the following days. Now they knew what life and death under Japanese rule would be like.

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15 March 2018

Ritterkreuz Award Ceremony of Wilhelm Knetsch at Stalingrad

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Date: Thursday, 15 October 1942
Place: Stalingrad, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Major Wilhelm Knetsch (Kommandeur Infanterie-Regiment 545 / 389.Infanterie-Division) receives the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Crosses) from General der Panzertruppe Friedrich Paulus (Oberbefehlshaber 6. Armee). Stalingrad, 15 October 1942. Knetsch already received the radio news about his award from 8 October 1942. During the attack on Stalingrad, Wilhelm Friedrich Karl Knetsch (26 February 1906 - 27 March 1982) was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold and the Ritterkreuz with a fortnight of each other, and the proud Paulus said that Knetsch was the best battalion commander in his entire army! Because of a severe illness, on 15 November 1942 he left the Stalingrad cauldron.

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"Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army" by Hans Wijers

06 March 2018

Three German Commanders in St.-Lô area

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Date: Sunday, 16 July 1944
Place: Villebaudon, St.-Lô, Normandy, France
Photographer: Unknown

Three senior German commanders in the Battle against Allied troops in St.-Lô area, Normandy, 16 July 1944. From left to right: General der Fallschirmtruppe Eugen Meindl (Kommandierender General II. Fallschirmkorps), SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Paul Hausser (Oberbefehlshaber 7. Armee), and Generalleutnant Dipl.Ing. Richard Schimpf (Kommandeur 3. Fallschirmjäger-Division). Behind Schimpf is SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl-Heinz Boska (Adjutant Oberbefehlshaber 7. Armee). In this meeting Meindl told his commander, Hausser, that the German defense position at St.-Lô was untenable any longer due to the superiority of the Allied forces on land and in the air. The next day Hausser forwarded this message to his commander, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel (Oberbefehlshaber Heeresgruppe B). Unknowingly, on the same day Rommel was badly wounded by Allied air strikes and went to the intensive treatment at the hospital! This photo is most likely taken at Villebaudon which is the base of II. Fallschirmkorps.


01 March 2018

Lieutenant Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare in His Cockpit

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Date: Friday, 10 April 1942
Place: Kaneohe, Hawaii, United States of America
Photographer: Unknown

Lieutenant Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare seated in the cockpit of his Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighter, 3 April 1942. The plane is marked with five Japanese flags, representing the five enemy bombers he was credited with shooting down. On 20 February 1942, "Butch" O'Hare became the US Navy's first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of 9 Japanese heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier in Rabaul, and brought down 5. At that time, O'Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when a second wave of Japanese bombers were attacking his aircraft carrier Lexington. O'Hare was on board the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which had been assigned the task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 450 miles from the harbor at Rabaul, at 10:15, the Lexington picked up an unknown aircraft on radar 35 miles from the ship. A six-plane combat patrol was launched, two fighters being directed to investigate the contact. These two planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander John Thach shot down a four-engined Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 ("Mavis") flying boat about 43 miles out at 11:12. Later two other planes of the combat patrol were sent to another radar contact 35 miles ahead, shooting down a second Mavis at 12:02. A third contact was made 80 miles out, but reversed course and disappeared. At 15:42 a jagged vee signal drew the attention of the Lexington's radar operator. The contact then was lost, but reappeared at 16:25 forty-seven miles west and closing fast. Butch O'Hare, flying F4F Wildcat BuNo 4031 "White F-15", was one of several pilots launched to intercept the incoming 9 Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers from 2nd Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai; at this time five had already been shot down. At 16:49, the Lexington's radar picked up a second formation of Bettys from 1st Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai only 12 miles out, on the disengaged side of the task force, completely unopposed. The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman "Duff" Dufilho. As the Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking Bettys nine miles out at 17:00. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O'Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear-facing guns for mutual protection. O'Hare's Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing. O'Hare's initial maneuver was a high-side diving attack employing accurate deflection shooting. He accurately placed bursts of gunfire into a Betty's right engine and wing fuel tanks; when the stricken craft of Nitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba (3rd Shotai) on the right side of the formation abruptly lurched to starboard, he ducked to the other side of the V formation and aimed at the enemy bomber of Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori (3rd Shotai) on the extreme left. When he made his third and fourth firing passes, the Japanese planes were close enough to the American ships for them to fire their anti-aircraft guns. The five survivors managed to drop their ordnance, but all ten 250kg bombs missed. O'Hare's hits were so concentrated, the nacelle of a Betty jumped out of its mountings, after O'Hare blew up the leading Shōsa Takuzo Ito's Betty's port engine. O'Hare believed he had shot down five bombers, and damaged a sixth. Lieutenant Commander Thach arrived at the scene with other pilots of the flight, later reporting that at one point he saw three of the enemy bombers falling in flames at the same time. In fact, O'Hare destroyed only three Bettys: Nitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba's from 3rd Shotai, Ittō Hikō Heisō Susumu Uchiyama's (flying at left wing of the leading V, 1st Shotai) and the leader of the formation, Shōsa Takuzo Ito's. This last (flying on the head of leading V) Betty's left engine was hit at the time it dropped its ordnance. Its pilot Hikō Heisōchō Chuzo Watanabe tried to hit Lexington with his damaged plane. He missed and flew into the water near Lexington at 1712. Another two Bettys were damaged by O'Hare's attacks. Ittō Hikō Heisō Kodji Maeda (2nd Shotai, left wing of V) safely landed at Vunakanau airdrome and Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori was later shot down by LT Noel Gayler ("White F-1", VF-3) when trying to escape 40 miles from Lexington. With his ammunition expended, O'Hare returned to his carrier, and was fired on accidentally but with no effect by a .50-caliber machine gun from the Lexington. O'Hare's fighter had, in fact, been hit by only one bullet during his flight, the single bullet hole in F-15's port wing disabling the airspeed indicator. According to Thach, Butch then approached the gun platform to calmly say to the embarrassed anti-aircraft gunner who had fired at him, "Son, if you don't stop shooting at me when I've got my wheels down, I'm going to have to report you to the gunnery officer." It is calculated that O'Hare had used only sixty rounds of ammunition for each bomber he destroyed; an impressive feat of marksmanship. In the opinion of Admiral Brown and of Captain Frederick C. Sherman, commanding the Lexington, Lieutenant O'Hare's actions may have saved the carrier from serious damage or even loss. By 19:00 all Lexington planes had been recovered except for two F4F-3 Wildcats shot down while attacking enemy bombers; both were lost while making steady, no-deflection runs from astern of their targets. The pilot of one fighter was rescued, the other went down with his aircraft. The Lexington returned after the New Guinea raid to Pearl Harbor for repairs and to have her obsolete 8-inch guns removed, transferring some of her F4F-3 fighter planes to the USS Yorktown (CV-5) including BuNox 4031 "White F-15" that O'Hare had flown during his famous mission. The pilot assigned to fly this aircraft to Yorktown was admonished by O'Hare just before take off to take good care of his plane. Moments later, the fighter unsuccessfully took off, rolling down the deck and into the water; the pilot was recovered, but "White F-15" was lost.

Sources :

19 December 2017

Unteroffizier Gerhard Proske from Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54)

Image size: 1305 x 1600 pixel. 497 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 October 1942
Place: Krasnowardeisk airfield, Kharkov, Ukraine (Soviet Union)
Photographer: Unknown

This picture show one of the pilots who flew in the shadows of the aces. He is Unteroffizier Gerhard Proske of 1.Staffel / Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54) near the tail of his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 “Weiße 7”, Werknummer 10411. Note Gruppe and Geschwader emblem under the cockpit. Picture taken on 1 October 1942 on Krasnowardeisk airfield. Until this day Unteroffizier Proske, who had joined I.Gruppe/JG 54 during spring of 1941, accumulated 20 claims. Some of them while flying as Katschmarek (wingman) of Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Erich von Selle (2 July 1941 – 14 December 1941) and Hauptmann Franz Eckerle (14 December 1941 – 14 February 1942. KIA). Gerhard Proske was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz I.Klasse and Frontflugspange in Bronze. Also note the fur lined trousers. On 30 January 1944 Feldwebel Gerhard Proske (take-off 08:30 hours with Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6 “Gelbe 1”, Werknummer 550899) was shot down by Russian fighters together with newcomer Obergefreiter Helmut Wilhelm (Fw 190 A-5 “Gelbe 2”, Werknummer 304719) during a familiarisation flight over the front area of Vitebsk-Boburisk. He was taken prisoner and return to Germany after the war. He accumulated a total 29 victory claims.

Source :
Luftwaffe im Focus - Edition No.1 2002

17 October 2016

The First Christmas of SS Division "Prinz Eugen"

Image size: 1600 x 1118 pixel. 437 KB
Date: Friday, 25 December 1942
Place: Yugoslavia
Photographer: Unknown

The first Christmas of the SS Volunteer Division "Prinz Eugen". Although the SS, being a pagan organisation, was essentially an opponent of Christianity – celebrating Christian holidays was nevertheless allowed within the organisation, because of the deep roots of this religion in Europe (that is, to avoid turning off the potential manpower). In the photo, the Banat ethnic Germans modestly celebrate their first and only peaceful wartime Christmas, before marching off to bloody battles across Yugoslavia. Their faces are already nostalgic and their thoughts directed towards home, to which most of them will never return.

Source :

16 October 2016

German Victory Parade in Belgrade

Image size: 1600 x 1200 pixel. 609 KB
Date: Sunday, 13 April 1941
Place: Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Heinz Fremke from Propaganda-Kompanie (PK) 691

House of the National Assembly in Belgrade – then and now. After nine SS men from the "Reich" Division used the general confusion and formally captured the Yugoslav capital on 12 April 1941, a victory parade of the true conqueror of the city, the 1st Armoured Group, was held on 13 April at noon. In the (old) photo, tanks of the Panzer-Regiment 15 / 11.Panzer-Division "Gespensterdivision" (Ghost Division) parade in front of their commanders: standing in the centre is Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist (commander of the armoured group), to his right is Generalmajor Ludwig Crüwell (divisional commander), and on the left, in black uniform, is Oberstleutnant Gustav-Adolf Riebel (commander of the division's panzer Regiment). The defeat of Belgrade was also celebrated in the "Song of Armoured Group Kleist": "We were the victors of Belgrade; we defeated all resistance, and broke up with a false state!" Crüwell later fought under Rommel and after the war became chairman of the Africa Corps Veterans Association; Riebel was killed in 1942 at Stalingrad – and von Kleist ended his life in Soviet captivity, as a war criminal, in 1954. At the spot from which these three officers once proudly watched their rolling tanks – today stand the civilians, waiting for a bus.

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07 March 2016

Relationship Between Japan and China During World War II

By: Francisco Meza

The animosity between Chinese and Japanese goes all the way back to the Mukden Incident. This September 18, 1931 incident, also labeled Manchurian Incident, was evidently faked by rogue Japanese military personnel. It was merely a pretext for Imperial Japan’s military invasion in 1931 of northeastern China (Manchuria). Within six months, the resourceful Japanese established Manchukuo, its puppet state. Japan’s ruse of war was swiftly exposed to the International community. It resulted in the diplomatic isolation of Japan, as well as, the nation’s exit from the League of Nations in March 1933. 

The Second Chinese-Japanese War
The Marco Polo Incident (July 7, 1937) resulted in a full-scale war between the two nations. Japan scored major victories, initially. China fought Japan with generous assistance from Germany, the US, and the Soviet Union until 1941. After Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the war between the Asian giants merged into the greater conflict of WWII. This war, also known as the Pacific War, was the biggest Asian war ever.

This war was the culmination of the decades-long imperialist policy of Japan. Imperial Japan aimed to expand its influence militarily as well as politically to access raw material reserves of neighboring nations. Japan’s policy was essentially aggressive modernized militarism in the Asian-Pacific region. Japanese exploited the region’s labor to fuel its expansionist plans. Consequently, two nations—Japan’s immediate neighbors—suffered immensely. Korea and China suffered terribly in WWII and bore the brunt of Japanese atrocities. 

Japan Runs Into Stiff Resistance at Shanghai
Although Japan won the Battle of Shanghai, it was a long battle and the Chinese fought valiantly for three months. The Japanese army wasn’t expecting this level of resistance. And although the Chinese suffered heavy casualties, they destroyed 51 ships and 85 aircraft belonging to the enemy. This was the first of the 22 engagements in the second China-Japan war and the most bloodiest.

Japanese Soldiers Accused of Genocide
From Shanghai, the Japanese advanced to Nanking. The relationship between Japan and China during WWII hit a low point during the Japanese occupation of Nanking in December 1937. Japanese soldiers are alleged to have massacred 300,000 Chinese people—both military and civil—during a 6-week occupation of this city. Although this figure is under scrutiny, there’s no doubt that the Japanese military was guilty of war crimes of a serious nature at Nanking. This 20th Century genocide is better known as the Rape of Nanking. 

The Chinese Defeat the Japanese at Changsha and Guangxi
In 1939, the Chinese defeated the Japanese at Changsha (October) and Guangxi (November). By this time, the Chinese army was much stronger than it had been at the beginning of the war. The Chinese launched major offensives that resulted in heavy Japanese casualties. At Changsha, the Chinese inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy that exceeded 40,000. At Guangxi, the Chinese managed to kill over 85 percent of the enemy officers. 

The Chinese Fight On With US Aid
The Chinese military resisted the Japanese occupation more fiercely after the US declared war on Japan. From December 1941, the US aid to China increased multi-fold. US pilots airlifted tons of essential material via the dangerous “Hump” route over the Himalayas after the Japanese closed the vital Burma Road. 

Japan Launches Operation Ichi-Go
In 1944, from April to October, Japan renewed its attack and launched a massive campaign named “Operation Ichi-Go.” This operation consisted of three different battles in Guangxi, Henan, and Hunan. Although the Japanese conquered Henan and Changsha, they failed to force the Chinese military to surrender. 

Atomic Attacks Force Japan to Retreat
Following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, Japan surrendered in September 1945. The Allies of WWII had decided at the Cairo Conference (November 1943) to punish the aggression of Imperial Japan by restoring territories the Japanese had annexed during the war. The Japanese were forced to retreat from Formosa, Pescadores, and Manchuria in China. They were also expelled from the Korean Peninsula.

A sense of mistrust existed in the relationship between Japan and China for several years even before the Second World War. The Chinese always felt that the Japanese had brutalized their nation throughout the 1930s. The war started by Japan’s imperialist leaders killed over 20 million Chinese people. Hence, during WWII, there was a total failure of the diplomatic channel and the China-Japan War concluded because of the intervention of the Allies.

The Japanese imperialist designs did not promote good relations with its neighbors, especially China and Korea. Consequently, the two nations were at war even before WWII.

The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

By: Francisco Meza

"I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb ... It is an awful responsibility which has come to us ... We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes."
—President Harry S. Truman, August 9, 1945

Nagasaki, a large seaport in southern Japan, was of great wartime importance. This city’s broad-ranging industrial activity included the production of military equipment, ships, ordnance, and other war materials. The city’s four largest companies employed almost 90 percent of the labor force. 

The population of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945—the day of atomic bombing—was approximately 263,000. Fat Man, the atomic bomb set off over Nagasaki, was more powerful than Little Boy, the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima. While the blast yield of the Little Boy (Uranium-235 filling) had been about 15 Kilo Tons of TNT, the blast yield of Fat Man (Plutonium filling) was 21 Kilo Tons of TNT.

An Inoperative Fuel Transfer Pump Does Not Affect the Mission
On the morning of August 9, 1945, Fat Man was loaded into the bomb bay of Bockscar, a B-29 Superfortress. Major Charles W. Sweeney was the pilot, and Commander Frederick L. Ashworth was in charge of the bomb. During the pre-flight inspection, it was noticed that one of Bockscar’s reserve tank had an inoperative fuel transfer pump. But not much time remained before the scheduled departure. Replacing the defective fuel pump would take hours and shifting Fat Man was too risky. It would not be possible to use 640 US gallons of fuel, and this fuel would consume more fuel during the long flight. Despite this problem, the pilot elected to continue with the vital mission.

Nagasaki’s Date with Destiny: Dense Clouds and Drifting Smoke Obscure the Planned Target Kokura
Bockscar lifted off at 03:47. The primary target of the Allies had been Kokura. Instructions to drop Fat Man were clear: Sight the target. But dense clouds and drifting smoke obscured the aiming point at Kokura. Sweeney was forced to settle for the secondary target—Nagasaki—after making three bomb runs over Kokura that took 50 minutes. (The maximum time permitted for making bomb runs was only 15 minutes.)
Bockscar was burning precious fuel but more importantly, the aircraft was repeatedly exposed to the heavy air defenses of Yawata, a neighboring town. The pilot turned toward Nagasaki only when there was no break in the dense clouds at Kokura.

Nagasaki was also obscured by cloud. The pilot was ordered to make a radar approach if the target could not be sighted. But the bombardier found a gap in the clouds at the last minute. This hole in the clouds enabled him to visually sight the target. The Fat Man was let go and exploded at 11:02 (Nagasaki time) after a 43-second free fall. The atomic bomb went off at an altitude of about 500 m (1,650 ft). 

Detonation Point Missed by 2 Miles: Deaths Minimized
Due to poor visibility, Fat Man missed the intended detonation point by almost two miles (3 km). The powerful blast was confined to just the Urakami Valley in Nagasaki. The intervening hills safeguarded a major part of the city. Despite this, about 35,000–40,000 people were killed instantaneously. Burn injuries and radiation illnesses killed several thousand in the ensuing weeks. 

The explosion generated intense heat estimated at 7,050° F (3,900° C). The resulting winds were estimated to be around 624 mph (1,005 km/h). American airmen flying several miles from Nagasaki saw the “Mushroom Cloud” of the atomic blast rising 50,000 ft (15,240 m). Fat Man destroyed Nagasaki’s ordnance plant that manufactured torpedoes completely and damaged other industries severely. So, the atomic attack devastated the Japanese war machine’s ability to fight.

Japanese Public Warned to End the War
Even before Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki, millions of leaflets were airdropped from US aircraft all over Japan. The Japanese public was warned that more atomic weapons that were similar to the one used in Hiroshima would be used repeatedly until the whole nation was wiped off. The Japanese were given only one alternative: End the war immediately. 

Six days after Nagasaki’s date with destiny, Hirohito, the Japanese Emperor blinked. The Japanese war machine had made its intention to fight till the very end absolutely clear. The nation’s top brass wasn’t willing to surrender. Hence, the Allies had planned to drop the third bomb on 19th August 1945. In fact, the allies had planned 12 atomic bombings in case the Japanese did not surrender. So the Fat Man curtailed the Allies’ casualties significantly. If you are ever in Hawaii there are plenty of Pearl Harbor tours that show how the US got into WWII.

Although the atomic bombing of Nagasaki resulted in widespread and instant death, it served a huge purpose. It ended WWII that would have perhaps killed several million more on each side.

03 April 2015

British POW with Luftwaffe Soldiers

Image size: 1600 x 1067 pixel. 848 KB
Date: Monday, 18 December 1939
Place: Wilhelmshaven, Niedersachsen, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

On 18 December 1939 German fighters met a formation of 22 Wellington bombers and almost annihilated them. They destroyed 14 bombers; four were very badly damaged, and the remaining four were less badly damaged. One of the destroyed bombers was a Wellington Mk I, N2936, LF-J of 37 RAF Squadron which was shot down into the sea close to the German coast, most probably by Oberstleutnant Carl Schumacher (Geschwaderkommodore Jagdgeschwader 1) at 14:35. The whole crew led by bomber pilot Sergeant Herbert Ruse was rescued by the Germans and taken prisoner. Here we see Ruse escorted by Luftwaffe soldiers. In the background parked a Junkers Ju 52 “Tante” transport aircraft.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

Press Conference after the Air Battle in Wilhelmshaven

Image size: 1600 x 1063 pixel. 854 KB
Date: Wednesday, 20 December 1939
Place: Berlin, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

Berlin, 20 December 1939 – a press conference organized by Dr. Otto Dietrich of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry on the occasion of a great victory over British bombers achieved by German fighters over the Wilhelmshaven area on 18 December 1939. The German military counted over 50 bombers, and after the fight claimed to have shot down 36. The numbers were exaggerated, but they indicate the scale of the air battle, and of course the Germans naturally wanted to exploit it! The conference was a great success, many foreign journalists arrived to ask questions or to listen to stories told by participants. Seated at the table are pilots who fought in this battle. On the extreme right is Oberleutnant Wolfgang Falck of I.Gruppe / Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76); third from the right is Oberstleutnant Carl Schumacher, Gruppenkommandeur Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1); between Falck and Schumacher is Dr. Otto Dietrich in SS-Gruppenführer uniform; and third from the left is Oberleutnant Johannes Steinhoff of 10.(N)Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) “Schlageter”. Both Oberleutnants (Falck and Steinhoff) claimed two victories in the battle, while the commander of the whole formation (Schumacher) claimed one.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

04 January 2015

Portrait Photo of Hans-Joachim Marseille

Image size: 1171 x 1600 pixel. 671 KB
Date: Sunday, 28 June 1942
Place: Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Heinrich Hoffmann Firm
Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille, Staffelkapitän 3.Staffel / I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27) "Afrika", posed for the studio camera of Heinrich Hoffmann Firm in the day he received the coveted Schwerter zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub #12 (Swords for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves) from Adolf Hitler, 28 June 1942 (Marseille already received the telegram from 18 June 1942). On 3 June he achieved his 75th victory, and on 17 June his 101st victory, which made him the most efficient fighter pilot of the Western Front and brought him the Eichenlaub in 6 June 1942 and Schwertern in 18 June, only a couple of days later! There is no doubt that he is the best German ace at this time. Moreover, he was also the most famous and popular German pilot who achieved enormous successes against the Britsih flyers. Marseille was described by Adolf Galland, the most senior German ace, with these words : "He was the unrivaled virtuoso among the fighter pilots of World War II. His achievements were previously considered impossible."


Jagdtiger Abandoned in Neustadt

Image size: 1600 x 1035 pixel. 563 KB
Date: Friday, 23 March 1945
Place: Landauer Strasse, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Photographer: Unknown
Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf.B mit 12,8cm PaK 44 L/55 "Jagdtiger"(Sd.Kfz.186) Nr. 331 of schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653 after she was abandoned in Landauer Strasse in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. The vehicles are shown here being examined by American soldiers from the 10th Armored Division, on 23 March 1945. Leutnant Kasper Geoggler commanded the Jagdtiger No.331, also the third Kampfgruppe from 3.Kompanie / sPzJg.Abt.653. Geoggler had nerves of steel, and was very keen to prove himself. He was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold) on 10 May 1943 whilst fighting on the Eastern Front. He had already had several kills to his credit with his Jagdtiger. In 22 March 1945, Geoggler had three Jagdtigers including his own placed into a good position north of Neustadt with a commmanding view of the approach roads to the town. From camouflage postions, the three Jagdtigers engaged in U.S. tank column; the first and last vehicles were shot up followed by the rest. The Shermans and M10 tank destroyer returned fire. Two Jagdtigers - Geoggler's and another, No.323 - were hit ten times between them. They withdrew into Neustadt. After the battle, 25 US tanks were claimed destroyed, while none of the Jagdtiger crew suffered any serious injuries! The thick sloping-armor had done its job.